Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2007

Religious concerns cloud future of park sculpture

April 15, 2007


— A proposed park sculpture including elements of primitive calendars and Native American artwork has raised eyebrows in Wichita with some complaining it could have religious overtones.

Artist Steve Murillo wants to place about 120 stones in three concentric circles at Sedgwick County Park. One ring would act as a solar calendar, similar to the ancient Stonehenge in England, while another would serve as a sundial and the third, an American Indian medicine wheel or labyrinth.

Murillo was scheduled to meet with county commissioners this week to discuss his idea and ask for permission to use one acre of the park for his installation. He said he would collect private donations to pay for the work.

But commissioners delayed his presentation after deciding they needed a long-term plan for developing the park.

Three of the commissioners said they received calls and e-mails from concerned residents about the proposal after details appeared in The Wichita Eagle.

Commissioner Kelly Parks said one woman thought the sculpture was for a cult.

"The other (caller) said she thought it would open the door for many other religions, and I said, 'This is not a religious thing.' I certainly did not perceive this as a religious thing," Parks said.

The Rev. Peggy Elliott of Balm of Gilead Ministries had planned to speak against the proposal before it was pulled from the agenda.

"What these exhibits tend to attract are kids into the Gothic (lifestyle), people who are on the edge of living, and because of that they tend not to attract enough of the city who feels comfortable enough to go there," Elliott said. "Gangs, sometimes, will tend to be attracted there because it has a very mystical connotation. It's not a positive thing."

Murillo said he had hoped the installation would serve as a quiet place for people to otherwise escape from the rigors of day-to-day life.

"These pause points, these places of reflection and meditation, are opportunities to increase our enjoyment of life and our 'well-being,'" he wrote in an e-mail. "These stone circles with centers offer us a place in the park where we can 'center' ourselves."

The county could take up to a year to develop a master plan for Sedgwick County Park, said Commissioner Tom Winters, who said he believed such a review was necessary.


Ragingbear 11 years, 1 month ago

This is not about a religious artpiece, this is about Christians so concerned with forcing their religion and ONLY their religion that they want to eliminate anything that any fruit cup could even remotely think could possibly have a remote chance at looking like something that some might think that some people would see regarding another religion.

Next stop, they will outlaw spaghetti because it represents our true lord, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. All behold His noodly appendage!

Crossfire 11 years, 1 month ago

Well you know what happens when you pile stones in a circle. The Pagans come and erect a Wicker Man. Then Goth gangs start to hang out around "The Edge". And you know that the Native Americans will be some where in the park waiting to see who will fire the first shot. Cause we all know that people of differing religions always just kill each other. Maybe the Rev would be happier with a Quilting Garden as long as there was no Demon Sundial... there.

Crossfire 11 years, 1 month ago

The work that this artist does is amazing it would be a shame Wichita misses out.

Bluedagger 11 years, 1 month ago

Apparently there are still elements of our "Real American culture" that wish to deny any imagery or reference to the Historicaly Indigionous Culture of the Indians that existed then and barely survive now. If its justifiable to permit some "Ten commandment" displays at times at Goverment or other Public parks, under some creative Historical justification then Why should artwork of this type even be questioned? If I recall, the American Indian IS and remains the REAL Indiginous Culture of this country; and Thankfully, the Imposed christianization that was forced upon them years ago hasnt wiped their culture out completely. A Statue, Monument or any other Artistic display about the Indian Culture is only a small tribute to them. If such a display involves a sundial, or a solar calander? so what! A public clock that doesnt require energy to be spent to make it work is a NATURAL thing and should be praised and encouraged.
I am fairly sure that if a Christian group came up with some type of a sundial display or Labyrinth ( which BTW can be found incorporated into Several European Churches and likely others ) the fuss would be non existant. Of course, then I am also sure that people who think like the Reverand mentioned in this article are of the same mindset as those early American settlers who IMPOSED christianity upon the early indians "to save them". Saved from what? Thier Own Traditional Beliefs? Child predetors? Hmmm... Apparently, ANY reference to another culture & or its Historical beliefs publically is not welcome by this Reverand, unless of course it fits her definition of acceptable. Finally, As for me, the last 35+ years have also proven that one should ALWAYS question motives of Priests, Reverands etc... their intersts are not always as pure and "rightious" as they claim.

Bluedagger 11 years, 1 month ago

There will always be opposition to anything, by both Liberals, Conservatives as well as the whackos on either extreme on both sides of the political spectrum.

Hypocrocy is also a universal position that all of the above occasionally place themselves in at one time or another; the idea being of course is to find a workable point to be at through reason, not ones point from a pure "faiths" view. This proposed sculpture is described as Displaying Historic elements of Indian Culture. A Sundial, or Earth based solar calander is still based on a factual and scientifically proven natural re-occuring event not to be mistaken as rendered by a particular belief system, nor are "rules" or "commandments" dictating a specific faith or Belief being proposed. Its amazing how todays Modern clocks are a decendant of those sundials and other astronomical discoveries. Whether or not a sculpture is definded as christian, Pagan, Buddhist, Hebrew or any other specific faith can also be debateable. Time however, is a universal fact of life and doesnt distinguish itself by any particular faith, but then again I bet there are those who would argue that point as well in an effort to minimize others.

zzgoeb 11 years, 1 month ago

If this was a Christian sculpture, we could expect to find the Phelps family holding a service there...Interestingly, Sedgwick County has 466,000 residents as of 2005 Wichita has about half that...but a "couple" of phone calls puts a hold on the park? Hey wait, this is a democracy? What about majority rules? What about the 465,998 folks that DIDN'T call?

Kansas just continues to "backup" in high gear to the 13th century...sad!

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